Arianespace provided another on-time Ariane 5 launch tonight by orbiting a pair of telecommunications spacecraft at the service of Asian region operators, on a mission that included multiple numerical milestones for the company and its customers.
Lifting off from the Spaceport in French Guiana, Arianespace’s heavy-lift workhorse delivered the JCSAT-13 and VINASAT-2 relay platforms into geostationary transfer orbits on the 48th consecutive success for Ariane 5.
The two passengers lofted on today’s mission were the 100th and 101st commercial geostationary communications satellites from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, as well as the 42nd and 43rd platforms from this U.S. spacecraft manufacturer launched by Arianespace. Both relay platforms are similar in overall configuration, as they are based on Lockheed Martin’s A2100 spacecraft platform design.
According to Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall, this flight also enabled his company to surpass the 300th mark for the total number of primary satellite passengers launched in its operations from French Guiana – a count that does not include some 50 additional auxiliary or secondary payloads.
Le Gall also noted the mission continues a 23-year relationship of Japan’s SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation with Arianespace, which began in 1989 when JCSAT-1 was orbited on an Ariane 4. With tonight’s flight, JCSAT-13 become the 27th satellite that Japanese operators have entrusted to commercial launch services with the Ariane family of vehicles.
JCSAT-13 is to be positioned in geostationary orbit at 124 deg. East, providing direct TV broadcast links to all of Japan as a replacement satellite for JCSAT-4A, and its capacity will meet satellite relay coverage demands in Southeast Asia. Weighing nearly 4,530 kg. at launch, JCSAT-13 is equipped with 44 Ku-band transponders and has a design life exceeding 15 years.
VINASAT-2 is the second satellite launched by Arianespace for operation by the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group, and follows the lofting of VINASAT-1 on an Ariane 5 flight in April 2008. Equipped with 24 Ku-band transponders to handle radio, television and telephone links for all of Vietnam, VINASAT-2 had a liftoff mass of approximately 2,970 kg. and will operate from an orbital position at 131.8 deg. East during a design lifetime of 15-plus years.
“This was a very beautiful flight,” commented Joe Rickers, the President of Commercial Systems at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, in a speech at the launch control center. “I want to congratulate Arianespace and Jean-Yves Le Gall, along with all those [at the Spaceport] who support the launches: your record of success speaks for itself.”
For the 62nd liftoff of an Ariane 5 since its introduction, the vehicle’s delivery capabilities were confirmed once again – with the following estimated orbital parameters at the cryogenic upper stage’s injection:
Arianespace is keeping up the Ariane 5 launch pace this year, as today’s second heavy-lift launch of 2012 will be followed by the next flight on June 19. In the upcoming dual-payload mission, the workhorse will carry the Space Systems/Loral-produced EchoStar XVII high-throughput telecommunications platform for Hughes Network Systems, along with the Meteosat Second Generation-3 (MSG-3) weather satellite for EUMETSAT that was built by a Thales Alenia Space-led industry consortium.
Date: May 16, 2012